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white bowl of pappardelle noodles with bolognese sauce
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5 from 32 votes

Traditional Italian Bolognese Sauce

When it comes to meat sauce, no one does it better than the Italians and Bolognese is the King of Italian Sauces. If you're not a red meat eater you can easily swap out the beef and pork with turkey or chicken to make a sauce that you'll enjoy time and time again.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese, meat sauce, Pasta
Servings: 16
Calories: 358kcal
Author: Chef Dennis Littley


  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 2 large carrots finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 4 stalks celery finely chopped (approx 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1 pound ground chuck 20% fat
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat loose out of casing
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg optional ( I left it out, I don't like nutmet)
  • 1 cup red wine *You can use a dry white wine if you prefer
  • 84 ounces plum tomatoes 3 cans of crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes crushed by hand or food processor. (San Marzano variety if possible)
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley finely chopped
  • ¼ cup basil finely chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup Romano cheese grated (parmesan can be used as a substitute)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (Light cream or half and half can be used as a substitute)


  • Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Then add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until the veggies begin to caramelize (about 6 - 8 minutes). Add the chopped garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
    Remove the cooked vegetables (soffritto) from the pot and save until needed.
  • Add the olive oil and ground beef to the pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper and cook for about 10 minutes until the meat browns. Don't be tempted to continually stir and break up the meat. Allow it to get brown well, caramelizing some of the natural sugars in the meat. When the ground beef is fully cooked break up the meat with a wire whip and remove it from the pan.
    Repeat this process with the sausage. Add more olive oil if needed.
    When cooking is complete add the cooked beef back into the pan.
  • Add the red wine to the hot pan. It will deglaze the pan, releasing all the browned bits stuck to the bottom. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a large spoon to help get all the stuck bits loose.
  • Return the reserved soffritto to the pot, mix well and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, milk, basil and parsley, mixing well. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer.
    *If you want to add the nutmeg this is the time to do it. Traditionally nutmeg is added, but its a flavor I've never enjoyed or included in my Bolognese sauce.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Stir in heavy cream and Romano cheese, mix well to incorporate the cream and cheese into the sauce.
    If the sauce is too thick you can add a little water, red wine or milk to thin it out.
  • Reseason with sea salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste.
  • Serve with your favorite wide noodle pasta, I used Pappardalle.


Calories: 358kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 803mg | Potassium: 610mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3252IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 133mg | Iron: 2mg